Muslim Contribution To Britain

Zarin Khan

When did it all begin?

There has been a Muslim presence in Britain for at least 300 years. Yes 300 years! However, migration of Muslims to Britain on a large scale began in the 1950’s and ended in the 1970’s.

It has taken over 30 years for the Muslim community to mature and settle in a Western environment. It was done slowly but surely.

Number of Muslims in Britain

In 1951 the Muslim population in Britain was about 23,000. Ten years later, it was about 82,000 and by 1971 it was 369,000. 1

At present, there are an estimated 1.8 million Muslims in the UK, making Muslims the largest religious minority in Britain. 2

Number of Muslims growing!

The age profile of Muslims in Britain is different from that of the majority population. A higher proportion is under twenty five and a lower proportion is under sixty. Because of these demographic facts, the Muslim Community is set to increase in size over the next twenty years.

In fact, the Muslim population in the European Union is set to double by 2015 from 15 million people in 2003. 3

Mosques in Britain

As far back as 1889, Britain’s first mosque was established at Woking in Surrey.

In the 1980’s many purpose-built mosque’s were built in Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester. Some mosque’s have become tourist landmarks for visitors to Britain.

There are at current, approximately 900 mosques in the UK. 4

How do Muslims make a difference in Britain?

Now that we know when we arrived here, and how many Muslims are here – have you ever wondered what we do here?

Well sit back and relax, for a guided tour of what Muslims have been getting up to in Britain and be prepared for quite a few pleasant surprises on the way!

Muslims can be found participating in all walks of British life:-

Muslim Doctors/Health care Professionals

There is a significant number of Muslim doctors serving in the NHS, in fact a third of medical students are from ethnic minorities, many of whom are Muslims. 5

There are an even larger number of Muslims in other health care professions. 6

Many Muslims are becoming experts in their medical/scientific fields, and are progressing to consultancy levels in leading hospitals around the UK.

Muslims in Sports

You don’t have to reach back very far to remember our pride at the success of Amir Khan, 17. Boxing silver medallist at the Athens Olympics. He has become the youngest Olympic boxing champion since Floyd Patterson, won Gold at the Olympics in 1952.

Naseem Hamed, 28, has also made a tremendous impact on the global stage, as well as British Muslim converts Chris Eubank and Danny Williams.

Muslim Schools

Muslim Schools are setting standards of all-round excellence and nurturing a new generation of high achievers. The Leicester Islamic Academy, has achieved a 100% success rate in getting its GCSE candidates to obtain at least five A* to C grade passes. 7

Islamia Girls Secondary School, opened by Yusuf Islam in 1989, topped the examination league table for the London borough of Brent two years in succession in 1994 and 1995. In 1999/2000 it achieved a 96% pass rate. 8

Muslim primary Schools are achieving better than national average. In 2004, Muslim primary schools achieved an average 89% pass rate, 10% higher than the national average of 79%. 9

According to figures from Ofsted, Muslim schools are growing rapidly, in September 2003, there were 53 Muslim schools. In January 2005 there are 118.

The number of Muslim schools along with their successful pass rates, are thus providing Britain with young educated Muslims, who will in turn, be in a better position to contribute towards Britain in primary fields of work.

Muslims in Law

There are a growing number of Muslims in the field of Law, many of whom have set up their own successful law firms, throughout the UK.

A prominent Muslim solicitor often appearing in the media is Imran Khan, 37. He has undertaken many high profile cases. He has become one of the most important and high profile solicitors in Britain. He made his name in the Stephen Lawrence case. 10

Muslims in Politics

Muslims are participating in the very heart of matters by becoming more politically active.

There are currently over 200 Muslim councillors, four elected members of parliament, one elected member of the European parliament and five members of the House of Lords including the well known Lord Nazir Ahmad.11

Muslims have also served and continue to serve as mayors of British cities and boroughs.

And that’s not all – the number of Muslims councillors and lord mayors is set to increase.

Muslim Small Businesses

The Muslim community is increasingly affluent and comprises a substantial small businesses component.

The small businesses component is of great importance to the economy of Britain, as it generates employment, and also benefits the economy in the form of business taxes.

The Muslim run businesses are more often than not, family run businesses; hence the younger members of the family are encouraged to run businesses, thus, playing active roles in society and contributing towards Britain.

Muslim Millionaires

There are currently 5,400 Muslim millionaires in the UK. 12. Yes, you read that correctly. This clearly indicates the fact that Muslims have excellent entrepreneurial skills and abilities. The number of Muslim millionaires in the UK thus helps to create jobs/employment in all fields of work.

They also help Britain’s economy, as they bring valuable foreign exchange, when they export their goods, thus aiding Britain’s GDP.

Muslim Teachers

Nawazish Bukhari, who leads the Muslim Teachers Association, was the first Muslim Head Teacher of a state school in Britain. There are many Muslims teachers in senior positions throughout the UK in state schools. Muslims are taking leading roles in shaping the future of Britain.

Abdal Hakim Murad- known as T J Winters before he embraced Islam- graduated from Cambridge University with a double-first in Arabic in 1983. He is a lecturer at the Center of Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge University.

Muslims in the Media

So Rahman, is one of the main faces of Granada TV Regional programmes. He presents Granada Reports, Granada News and Crime file. He has also undertaken many Islamic programmes such as “Pathways of Belief” and “Sharia TV”. He has won many awards such as, Best Television Presenter award 2003, for his works on Granada reports and Crime file. 13

Samira Ahmed has been a Muslim Channel 4 news presenter since 1999. 14

Muslims in the Police force

Tarique Ghafoor, is joint third in command of Britain’s biggest and most important police force. He has been one of four assistant commissioners in the metropolitan police. He is the most senior Muslim officer. 15

Muslims changing Britain’s taste buds

Who could imagine what British life would be like without sugar, tea or coffee? What would the traditional British Christmas cake taste like without the thick layer of marzipan underneath that frosted icing? Indeed, where would the marzipan be without the almonds? And what about marmalade on toast? In fact, in terms of food, Britain would still be in the Dark Ages had it not started its trade with the Muslims.16

The range of food available here in Britain has never been greater and the British people’s range of tastes have never been wider. Today it is impossible to imagine a high street in the UK without an Indian/Pakistani restaurant offering curry.

Chicken Tikka Masala (CTM) is Britain’s most popular dish and is considered by many to be the “National dish of the Nation”. 17

The stats:-

Sainsbury’s sell 1.6 million CTM meals every year and stock 16 CTM – related products including CTM pasta sauce.

Marks & Spencer’s, famous CTM sandwiches, 18 tonnes are devoured every week.

23 million portions a year are sold in Indian/Pakistani restaurants.

CTM has created 14.6% of the sale of the almost half a million curries consumed on average in the restaurants and homes of the UK everyday of the year. 18

The Queen herself is a convert to the new British way of eating, her favourite being one of the oldest Indian restaurant. 19

Islam playing a part

A survey in the 1990's, found that two thirds of self-employed Muslims, mentioned that being their own boss meant it was easier for them to perform their religious duties, and suggested that their strong religious faith gave them confidence to set up on their own despite a lack of formal qualifications and poor access to finance. 20

This is backed up by the fact that Muslims are more likely to be self-employed (2000/01) than any other ethnic group. 21

Believe it or not, but approximately 20,000 British Muslims travel to Mecca for Hajj, annually. 22

Muslims have found that by adopting an Islamic lifestyle, they find peace of mind, which further helps them to put thing into focus, which means that they deal better with issues related to work and business. Islam to Muslims acts like a guiding force.


From corner shops to Tandoori restaurants, from law and accountancy to information technology, from the National Health Service and education to transport and public services, from politics and media to the arts, fashion and sports- the Muslim presence is strong, promising and it’s growing.

We’re here to stay – and we’ve made a big difference to Britain!


  1. Lancashire Mosques Organisation.
  2. International The News. Newspaper.
  3. Omer Taspinar – researcher at the Brookings Institute in Washington.
  4. Muslim Council of Britain.
  5. The Leicester Islamic Academy.
  6. .
  7. The Muslim News.
  8. Guardian Unlimited.
  9. Guardian Unlimited.
  10. Guardian Unlimited.
  11. Channel 4 News Website.
  12. Granada News Website.
  13. Guardian Unlimited.
  14. .
  15. .
  16. .
  17. Lancashire Mosques Organisation.
  18. Office of National Statistics.
  19. Muslim Council of Britain.